There were protests outside St. Mary’s Cathedral today when Salvatore Cordileone was installed as archbishop of the San Francisco Archdiocese and it seems there was controversy inside the church as well when the Right Reverend Marc Andrus, Episcopal bishop of California, was escorted to a basement room and detained until the 2 p.m. service began.
Andrus was an invited guest to the installation, an elaborate affair celebrating the beginning of Cordileone’s tenure as head of the Catholic Church in San Francisco. According to a news release posted on the Episcopal Diocese’s website, Andrus was not allowed to be seated.
“He was escorted to a basement room at St. Mary’s Roman Catholic Cathedral and detained by an usher until the time the service began, whereupon Bishop Andrus left the cathedral,” the news release stated.
Andrus was an opponent of Proposition 8, California’s same-sex marriage ban. Cordileone was a strong supporter of the measure.
On Monday, Andrus wrote a blog post about the impending installation and said that while he and Cordileone share concerns for the treatment of immigrants to this country and reforming U.S. immigration policies, the two differ on the issue of marriage equality.
“Bishop Cordileone was an active supporter of Proposition 8, which I and the other Episcopal bishops throughout California opposed,” Andrus wrote in the October 1 post that was called a letter to the diocese. “Despite this difference of opinion and support, I look forward to working with archbishop-designate Cordileone … Christianity has a long tradition of the faithful disagreeing with one another yet working together for common mission for the building of the Reign of God.”
Andrus’s post generated a headline on the Catholic News Agency’s website Thursday, “Episcopal bishop gives Archbishop Cordileone frosty welcome.” The story went on to report about Andrus’s October 1 letter, noting that he characterized Catholic Church teaching on marriage as “oppression.”
In fact, Andrus did state, “We can and must both work together for the world’s good, and it is equally important, as I say in most of my blessings at the conclusion of the Eucharist, that ‘we make no peace with oppression.’ The recognition of the dignity and rights, within civil society and the church of lesbian, bisexual, gay, and transgendered people, and of women are as core to our proclamation of the Gospel as our solidarity with the poor, with victims of violence and political oppression, and with the Earth.”
Andrus went on to state that he would not “change my course with regard to the full inclusion of all people in the full life of the church. I hope that public disagreements can be handled respectfully and that criticisms of public statements may be met with mutual respect.”
It looks like that didn’t happen at Cordileone’s installation.
George Wesolek, communications director for the archdiocese, told the Bay Area Reporter late Thursday afternoon that he did not know about the Andrus incident.
“I don’t know anything about that,” he said, adding that he should have more information Friday.
The B.A.R. will update this post when we receive more information.
[Updated 10/5/12: On Friday, there were conflicting accounts of what happened.
Wesolek said that Andrus came in to the cathedral before the 2 p.m. installation but after the rest of the interfaith delegation had been seated. Andrus was asked to wait in a conference room under the cathedral that was being used as a staging area for clergy.
Wesolek said they were trying to “figure out a way to get him up there without disrupting the service.”
However, when they came back down to the conference room Andrus had left.
Andrus said, in an October 5 blog post, that he was dropped off at the cathedral by his assistant at 1:30 p.m. and was in the lower level conference room at 1:40. His assistant had been instructed by the archdiocese to have Andrus there by 1:45.
“I identified myself to an assistant to the archbishop, who spoke to someone through a headset, saying, “Bishop Andrus is here.”
Andrus said that several members of the Greek Orthodox delegation were in the conference room. As an archdiocesan employee tried to escort Andrus up to the cathedral with the Greek Orthodox delegation they were stopped by another employee, who instructed yet another employee to wait with Andrus.
“At this point no other guests remained in the downstairs area,” Andrus wrote. “The employee and I chatted while waiting. I began to wonder about the time holdup. I checked my phone; it was 1:50 p.m. I asked the employee standing with me if the service indeed started at 2, which she affirmed.”
At 2 p.m. when the service started Andrus was still standing with the employee.
“I think I understand, and feel I should leave,” Andrus said to the woman. Her response was, “Thank you for being understanding.”
Andrus said he walked out the door. No tried to stop him.
“No attempt was ever made to explain the delay or any process for seating. I arrived early, before the time given my assistant, and waited to leave until after the service had begin,” Andrus wrote.
Wesolek said, “it just wasn’t the case” that Andrus was denied seating.
“We’ve had a relationship with him,” Wesolek said, adding that it’s the archdiocese’s intention “to work this out and to apologize for any misunderstanding.”
Joe Murray, executive director of the Rainbow Sash Movement, an LGBT Catholic organization, called the treatment of Andrus “disrespectful.”
“This is a perfect example of how extreme Cordileone can get when people in the interfaith community don’t agree with his judgments of LGBTs in general and gay marriage in particular,” Murray said in a statement. [End of update.]